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Abuse of Process in United Kingdom

Definition of Abuse of Process

In accordance with the work A Dictionary of Law, this is a description of Abuse of Process : A tort where damage is caused by using a legal process for an ulterior collateral purpose. (See also malicious prosecution). Actions that are obviously frivolous, vexatious, or in bad faith can be stayed or dismissed by the court as an abuse of process.

Abuse of process in the Business Encyclopaedia and Legal Adviser

Based on the Business Encyclopaedia and Legal Adviser , by W.S.M. Knight, Barrister–at –Law.

“The Court having inherent as well as statutory jurisdiction to protect itself from the abuse of its own procedure, may stay or dismiss frivolous and vexatious actions. It can do this at any stage, whether it be the plaintiff’s case that is stayed, as showing no reasonable cause of action, or the defendant’s defence that is struck out, as showing no reasonable ground of answer. The Court must, however, use a judicial decoration herein, and must not stay proceedings on any vague or indefinite principle. Consequently it is a jurisdiction very sparingly exercised, and only in exceptional cases. If a person maliciously, and without reasonable and probable cause, erroneously sets in motion the legal machinery to the hurt of another, the latter has a right of action against him for damages.

Some persons used habitually and persistently to institute vexatious legal proceedings, without any reasonable grounds, in the High Court, and in inferior courts, against the same or different persons, generally of high official position. Under the Vexatious Actions Act, 1896, the Attorney General may apply for an order under the Act against any such person. The Court will then hear such person, or give him an opportunity to be heard, after assigning counsel to him, in case he is unable by reason of poverty to retain counsel. If the Court is then satisfied that the facts are as above, it will order that no legal proceeding be instituted by such person in the High Court, or other court, unless he first obtains leave of the High Court, or a judge therefore, and satisfies such Court or judge that such legal proceeding is not an abuse of the process of the Court, and that there is. primed fade ground for such proceeding.”

Abuse of Process in Criminal Proceedings

There are several areas of the law which relate with the abuse of process in criminal law including delay, breach of promise, the destruction of evidence, entrapment, and adverse publicity.

An application to stay proceedings as an abuse of the process of the court has the potential to arise in any trial however minor, serious or complex and in whatever trial venue. Although not on the scale of the dramatic expansion of the doctrine of abuse of process during the 1990s, developments in the XXI century have been significant.

Applications to stay proceedings on grounds of abuse of process have almost become a part of the Criminal Justice system’s home furniture. Indeed, in the 2005 protocol issued by the Lord Chief Justice on the ‘Control and Management of Heavy Fraud and other Complex Criminal Cases’, the doctrine of ‘abuse of process’ has its own discreet section. In the protocol, which seeks to improve abuse of process case management, the Lord Chief Justice notes how such applications ‘have become a normal feature of heavy and complex cases’.

There is no doubt that the appellate courts were uneasy at the volume of applications to stay proceedings and that recent years have seen the courts striving to refine the principles (e.g. in relation to reneging on promises); ensure their consistent application (e.g. on the destruction or loss of evidence) and effectively eliminate some categories of abuse (as with adverse publicity after Abu Hamza).

Resources

See Also

Entrapment
Acquittal
Abduction of women
History of English Court System
Fairclough Homes Ltd v Summers (2012)
Legislative Process
High Court of Justice

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(2015, 06). Abuse of Process lawi.org.uk Retrieved 01, 2021, from https://lawi.org.uk/abuse-of-process/

06 2015. 01 2021 <https://lawi.org.uk/abuse-of-process/>

"Abuse of Process" lawi.org.uk. lawi.org.uk, 06 2015. Web. 01 2021. <https://lawi.org.uk/abuse-of-process/>

"Abuse of Process" lawi.org.uk. 06, 2015. Accesed 01 2021. https://lawi.org.uk/abuse-of-process/

W.S.M. Knight, 'Abuse of Process' (lawi.org.uk 2015) <https://lawi.org.uk/abuse-of-process/> accesed 2021 January 27

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Schema Summary

  • Article Name: Abuse of Process
  • Author: W.S.M. Knight
  • Description: Definition of Abuse of Process In accordance with the work A Dictionary of Law, this is a description of Abuse of Process : [...]

This entry was last updated: June 21, 2015

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